Foodies will rejoice over these Fantastic Four Restaurants in Plattsburgh, New York
Everyone expects to find great dining options in the big cities, but what I like to do on Mike’s Road Trip is discover epicurean delights in small town America. As a connoisseur of good food, I look at a number of factors when deciding to recommend places for my readers to dine. I evaluate the atmosphere/environment, the quality of the ingredients, the menu selection, the presentation, the service, and, of course, the taste and creativeness of the meal itself. I really believe that eating should occasionally be an experience, and not just something we do purely for sustenance. Food is one thing that we all have in common, no matter our ethnic, religious or political beliefs…a good meal is something we can all agree brings people together and often creates memories that will last beyond the consumption.
Even though Plattsburgh is a relatively small community, it serves a significant tourism population that descends on the area for its rich history and Lake Champlain recreation. I believe that you will see the number of high quality eateries increase as the four trailblazers below have elevated the culinary offerings to a level you’d experience in any large city. Plattsburgh has a good chance at becoming a destination for gastronomic enthusiasts.
I visited the Lake Champlain region on two different occasions and dined at nearly a dozen Plattsburgh restaurants to come up with this final four list of the best Plattsburgh restaurants. I have to thank the North County Chamber of Plattsburgh for providing me with a list of prospective restaurants to get my culinary tour started. Without further ado, here are the four best restaurants in Plattsburgh, NY.
Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro – Locals will not be surprised to see Anthony’s make the list because they basically started the gourmet food movement in Plattsburgh all the way back in 1980. After all these years they still dazzle diners with their European-American cuisine enjoyed in the unique and intimate atmosphere of a historic nineteenth-century farmhouse. Patrons have two options when dining at Anthony’s, the upscale main restaurant, or, the more casual and moderately priced Bistro.
Anthony’s is lead by owner/chef, Scott Murray who began his employment at the restaurant in 1983…many years later he become the head chef, then eventually owner of the restaurant. Anthony’s has a long and loyal following—one of the contributing factors for this is the extremely long tenure of not only Chef Scott, but his team…many of whom have been with the restaurant for well over a decade. The longevity of the staff has certainly helped in producing a consistent product, which everyone knows is one of the key ingredients for restaurant success.
An area in which Anthony’s specializes is the creation of many wild game dishes, such as Bison flank or wild boar. Wine aficionados will really appreciate the insanely extensive wine menu (over 270 bottles)…probably the largest restaurant selection I’ve ever seen. During my visit, I started off with the ceviche (shrimp, calamari, scallops and avocado), which was a mouthwatering seafood safari. For my entrée, I had a perfectly prepared filet of Seabass which was presented on a bed of roasted vegetables. This was not only a healthful choice, but so colorful and downright delectable. One of my favorite types of dessert is a slice of pie. My favorite fruits are berries…so, when I saw the freshly baked blueberry, raspberry and strawberry pie, my decision was predestined.
Irises Café and Wine Bar – Irises serves contemporary American cuisine in an upscale setting within a wonderfully historic 1867 building in the heart of downtown Plattsburgh. Inside dining offers intimate booths with intriguing local artwork adorning the walls. During the summer months, many folks choose to dine on the outside patio to watch passersby…while the setting sun casts an appliqué of shadows on the historic structures that make up the core of downtown.
Irises is lead by Chef Kevin O’Hara whose menu is a tapestry of locally inspired New American cuisine. I was excited to dive in, so I started my meal with what I was told is the most popular appetizer on the menu…the crab stuffed portobello mushroom. The combination of lump crab and meatiness of the portobello with melted dill havarti, citrus cream sauce and balsamic reduction was a sensational amalgam of ingredients.
I then had the Arugula salad…which I found light, refreshing and had great flavor. However, I would have liked to have seen it with a few more ingredients. For my main course, I tried a dish from the specials menu…Char, which is a fish I don’t believe I’ve had before. If you’ve never tried Char, the perfect description is in between salmon and trout. This dish was served with grilled asparagus, rice pilaf and a horseradish cilantro sauce. It was divine. To finish the meal off, I tried the apple raspberry crisp. The fresh apples and raspberries were from the area and the dish was beautifully plated with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a spot of caramel sauce brushed into the shape of an apple. Being a “wine bar,” you’d expect a great wine list, and Irises doesn’t disappoint. I actually tried a couple of flights so I’d had the perfect wine with each course.
Latitude 44 Bistro – Latitude 44 is one of the newest restaurants on the Plattsburgh culinary block…they serve up flavorful American dishes in a casual and vibrant setting. As soon as you walk, in you notice the kitchen staff hard at work entertaining guests at the chef’s table. As you flow into the space, there is a lounge with illuminated fish tank… then finally, a more intimate dining area. On pleasant evenings, guests will enjoy dining on the patio.
Latitude 44 is lead by chef/owner David Allen. The menu is an eclectic collection of vibrant American dishes that tease the palate into a culinary frenzy. I started my meal off with a beer and some sweet potato fries, which were served in a unique cone shaped apparatus specially designed for serving gourmet fries. The sweet potato fries were flavorfully seasoned and accompanied by a poppy citrus dipping sauce. I then tried the coconut shrimp with ginger puree, which was followed by my Mahi Mahi entrée— which I have to say was one of the best Mahi dishes I’ve ever had. I’ve eaten Mahi many times in Hawaii, but for whatever reason, it’s never been as good on the mainland. That is, until I had it at Latitude 44. The dish was pan seared with a cauliflower puree, tomato and espelette pepper broth, then garnished with garlic scapes…which really made my photo pop. Not that I wasn’t full at this point, but I do have a soft spot for warm Apple Crisp à la mode with caramel whipped cream.
Aleka’s Grill – New to the downtown scene, Aleka’s Grill serves up traditional Greek and Mediterranean dishes in a fun and casual atmosphere. Aleka’s is not in the same fine-dining category as the previous three, but the food here exudes love and passion. The owner (Peter Kritziotis) is half Greek and half Italian, hence the blending of the two ethnic foods. I have spent a fair amount of time around both Italian and Greek families, so I know that they show their love through the food they prepare…trust me when I say, no one leaves Aleka’s hungry.
I am a huge fan of fries…regular, yam, sweet potato, parsnip, you name it, I’ll try ’em. When I saw “Greek Fries” on the Aleka’s menu, I paused. Never hearing of “Greek fries” before, I had to give them a try. I was so glad I did…the deep fried potatoes were covered with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, fresh herbs and topped with olive oil and white wine vinegar. It was a combination full of zest and flavor. My entrée was the Falafel Salad, one of the most popular items on the menu and one that isn’t quite a traditional salad. This platter of Greek goodness includes deep fried Falafel served on a bed of mixed greens with hummus, feta, kopanisto, tabouli, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes & marinated root vegetables (turnips & beets) served with warm pita and Tzatziki. After all that, I stayed with the Greek theme and tried the Baklava—this sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey is traditionally served cold, but here they warm it up which gave it an entirely different texture, which was quite good.
While I visited many other Plattsburgh restaurants, these were without question the best-of-the-best. I’m sure there are a few others in the same caliber, so if you know of one that should have been included, please give them a shout-out by posting a comment below and share your experience with my readers and me.